Title: We Like Mike
Author: cathedral carver
Word Count: 4,800
Disclaimer:These characters do not belong to me.
Summary:We really, really do. Or, a few things John and Sherlock will never do, except in this story.
Author's Note: Written for alizarin_nyc in the Holmestice 2012 Fest.
1. Such As Applying Each Other's Makeup
On an unseasonably warm afternoon in late September, John arrived home early from the surgery to find Sherlock in the loo fiddling with a tube of lipstick. Dust motes floated in the weak autumn sunlight, creating a halo effect around Sherlock's hair, which he'd pulled back from his forehead with one of John's neckties. John leaned against the doorframe and watched Sherlock daub his lips with a colour that resembled congealed blood.
"Oh, Sherlock. Hasn't anyone ever told you that you're beautiful, just the way you are?" John crossed his arms and smiled. Sherlock pursed his lips, examined his reflection and didn't reply.
"Please tell me this is for a case," said John. He tilted his head slightly, polite but inquisitive. Sherlock had also done something to his eyes, John saw, something involving clumpy lashes and a rather hideous shade of azure shadow. Sherlock sighed theatrically and rolled one heavily mascaraed eyeball at John in the mirror.
"Of course, John."
John studied him. "Should I ask?"
"Right." John didn't move.
"Something else?" Sherlock said.
John studied Sherlock's lips, which really were pretty much just madefor accentuating. "Well, it's just…I think that colour's a bit dark for you is all."
Sherlock sighed. Then he ignored him.
"I've always seen you as more of a pink person. Maybe a light mauve."
"You're doing it all wrong, too, if you care. Anyway, I'm getting tea." John moved to leave. Sherlock finally turned away from the mirror.
"What do you mean?"
"The eyes, for one." John stopped. "I mean, really. Blueshadow? And why so much? Didn't your mother tell you less is more?"
Sherlock looked back to the mirror and studied his reflection. "How on earth—"
"I do have a sister, you know. Endured endless hours waiting for the loo as she experimented on her face. Was subjected to a few makeovers myself, from time to time."
"All incriminating photos have since been destroyed, so don't even bother."
"Hmm." Dubious. Sherlock sniffed. He lifted his chin and pursed his lips. "I think I've done a brilliant job."
John shrugged. "Suit yourself."
"Is that a dare, or an offer?"
"Which would you prefer?"
Sherlock lifted an eyebrow, considering. "Fine. Go ahead."
John bit the corner of his lip and moved to stand in front of him. "Sit," he ordered. Sherlock did, perching on the edge of the tub, long fingers gripping the porcelain with more force than necessary. John, eyes narrowed, studied his subject with an intensity that made Sherlock a bit uncomfortable. Finally, John nodded, wet a flannel and carefully wiped Sherlock's face completely bare.
"First, always start with a clean palette," he said. He placed one hand beneath Sherlock's chin, tilting it slightly up, then left and right. Sherlock waited, uncharacteristically quiet.
"Right, then," John said. "Here we go. I would generally begin with a moisturizer with sunscreen, because you're so damn pale and sun ages skin horribly. Did you buy any?"
"No worries. We'll skip that step. This time."
"But in future—"
"Right. Let's see what else you have here." John clapped his hands once, briskly, then examined the various contents of Sherlock's collection of cosmetics. He chose a small, beige tube. "Concealer," he said, unaccountably pleased.
"Shh. Pay attention. It's for a case, yes? All right. Dot this under the eyes and along your nose and on your chin. Then blend by patting, never rubbing."
"Then, foundation. This isn't an ideal shade, but it'll do. Next time look for something in the vampire collection. Also, remember to blend it into the jawline, always."
Sherlock swallowed audibly as John's fingers patted his face gently. He could feel John's warm breath wafting over his cheeks in small puffs as he worked.
"Always," John said firmly. "No exceptions." He worked in determined silence for a few moments. Sherlock closed his eyes for longer than a blink, trying to ignore the (sensual) subtle movements of John's slightly calloused fingers over his chin. "Good. Next, blush usually, but I don't think you need any."
"Your cheeks have gone all red." John tilted his head, concerned. "Are you feeling ill?"
"Yes. No. Fine. Splendid." Sherlock opened his eyes and blinked rapidly and thought cold thoughts and looked anywhere but at John.
"Hmm. We'll have to skip it, but I'll show you some time. It's an entire art unto itself."
"You don't say."
"You don't have any eyeliner, but it's brilliant for creating all kinds of elegant looks." He paused. "Or alluring, if that's what you're going for."
John picked up a small compact. "Eyeshadow." He sighed. "Well, blue it is, I guess, but not as much as you slathered on before." He started humming under his breath as he worked, something popular and dull and modern that Sherlock didn't recognize. "Excellent. Now, mascara. Look up. Down. Ok. Finally, lips. Liner is ideal, but we can just go with lipstick today." He placed one hand under Sherlock's chin again and angled his face up slightly. "Part them. Just a bit. There. Good." He smeared colour onto his finger, then paused suddenly, hesitant, finger poised just above Sherlock's mouth.
"What is it?" It wasn't warm in the small room, but sweat had soaked through the armpits of John's shirt.
"Nothing." With a slight intake of breath, John used one finger to daub colour onto Sherlock's lips, softly, gently. The only sound in the room was Sherlock's slightly rapid inhalation/exhalation.
"Your hand is shaking," Sherlock said, to say something.
"Stop talking," John said. He straightened and moved back, wiping his finger on his thigh. He stared at his finished creation for a long moment, then swallowed and looked away. "Ok. Done." Sherlock stood, approached the mirror. He stopped short. He turned his head to one side, the other. He leaned close, closer, so close the tip of his nose almost touched the surface.
"Well?" John said.
"Well. Clearly you've missed your calling, John," Sherlock said at last. "I look... I looksuperb."
John nodded. "Yes. Yes, you do, if I say so myself."
"Clearly those hands are meant for more than just doctor's work." Sherlock smiled, then leaned down impulsively and pressed his mouth against John's cheek, leaving a vivid, Sherlock lip-shaped stain just above the jaw.
John sucked in a surprised breath. He shoved his hands in his pockets and stepped back. Sherlock appraised him with his beautifully made-up eyes.
"Got some on you." He pointed.
"It's ok." John continued to stare at him, slightly open mouthed and slightly red-faced.
"What is it?"
"Nothing." John closed his mouth so hard his teeth clicked together. He shook his head. "Nothing. Just you should really consider plucking your eyebrows, too," he said.
2. Or, Playing Charades
On a damp and cloudy day in mid-October, John almost got shot but didn't. But, instead of falling to his knees, offering up thanks and a future first-born child to any number of deities and heading straight to the nearest pub to properly anesthetize himself like anynormal person, he promptly jumped into the Thames and almost drowned, instead. Sherlock immediately jumped in after him, and then healmost drowned, too. It was a close call, but in the end rage won out over hypothermia and he and his large, long and extraordinarily-heavy-when-wet coat managed to haul John to shore where all three of them lay sodden and gasping and shivering in the cold muck, happy in the knowledge that they weren't going to die after all, at least not at that moment.
"That was a stupid thing to do," Sherlock said at last. "And also very, very stupid. Do you understand? Does your stupid little brain comprehend how fantastically stupid that was?" He knew he was repeating himself, but the overwhelming stupidity of the situation warranted it. He was so angry he could barely move his lips, and not only because they felt like two pieces of ice chiseled into a bigger block of ice. A sharp, angry feeling was spreading like frost crystals across his chest, which was the perfect analogy because he was so fucking cold.
John coughed and shivered. "Sorry," he said. He didn't look very sorry, though. He looked tired and rather grey. He looked like someone who had recently fought back from the brink of death. He smiled, stupidly. "Almost got him, though."
"It. Doesn't. Matter. You. You. You. Are. So." Sherlock had no suitable words. He wanted to say stupid again, but didn't dare. He was too cold and angry. He wanted to shake John hard to better express his overwhelming displeasure, but didn't. Instead he and his coat rose heavily and wetly and ungracefully and hauled Stupid John up roughly by one elbow and took him home.
After two days of hurling numerous, extremely clever and creative insults at John that did not include the descriptor stupid, Sherlock came down with a horrible cold ("Retribution," said Stupid John with a Stupid Serene Smile). After two moredays of coughing and wheezing and ingesting endless mugs of scalding hot tea and throwing himself dramatically onto any piece of available furniture, occupied or not, he donned pajamas and dressing robe and commandeered the couch and raised a white, snotty hankie in surrender. John remained disgustingly hale and hearty, throughout, if not disgustingly heartless about Sherlock's infirmity. On the third day, John glanced over the top of the morning paper suddenly, as if in realization.
"You're quiet," he said to the snotty-tissue-covered blue lump sprawled on the couch across from him. "Too quiet. You haven't even moaned this morning." Sherlock opened his mouth to retort, but ended up squeaking instead.
John put down the paper. "Sorry, didn't quite catch that?" Sherlock opened his mouth and tried again. Another squeak emerged, followed by frantic hand waving about the throat. John smiled and nodded sagely.
"All right, then." John's slightly chilly fingers pressed and probed at Sherlock's neck and underside of his jaw. Sherlock closed his eyes and tried not to shiver, because he wasn't cold.
"Hmm. Feels a bit swollen, there. Is it tender?"
Sherlock shook his head.
"Well, looks like a good old-fashioned case of laryngitis. I prescribe plenty of fluids, lots of rest and, most importantly, no talking." He looked very serious. Then he grinned, with teeth. Sherlock sat up abruptly, scattering tissues and magazines to the floor. John watched as he frantically cast about on the cluttered coffee table for usable paper and found none.
"Ah, a pen, a pen, my kingdom for a—"
Sherlock scowled. His hands made intricate, impatient, fluttery motions not unlike two deranged hummingbirds.
"You dismantled them all last week to make the ink bomb, remember?" John stood in front of him, hands on hips. "What is it?"
Sherlock scowled harder and pointed at John, then at his own throat. And again. One more time. Then he crossed his arms and flounced back theatrically.
John laughed loudly. "What? You're blaming me? You think your predicament is myfault?" He laughed even louder.
Sherlock nodded vigorously, pleased with his dazzling charades aptitude.
John leaned down close and used his Serious Face. "I'll let you in on a little secret there, mate. No one, particularly not me, asked you to jump in the bloody river after me, all right? I was doing just fine—"
Sherlock kicked John's shin with his bare toes, which hurt him more than it hurt John, then reached up and grabbed a fistful of John's sweater and pulled him down onto the seat beside him. Then he jabbed a long, skinny finger into the middle John's chest.
"Ow," said John. Sherlock poked him again, harder. "Ow."
Sherlock moved to poke him again. John wrapped his hand around Sherlock's wrist.
"All right," he said. "Me. Myself. I. John Hamish Wat—"
Sherlock nodded, then waved his hands back and forth, back and forth, making cutting motions in the air. John narrowed his eyes.
Sherlock shook his head. Stupid stupid stupid. He tried again. He waggled one finger back and forth, back and forth.
"Naughty! I'm naughty? Hmm. Well, I have to admit you're not the first person to tell me—"
Sherlock gripped his temples and growled. Or, squeaked. He tried once more. He made an X sign with his two index fingers.
Sherlock flung himself back and whacked his head against the wall. He wanted to weep.
"I'm teasing, Sherlock. All right. No.Me no what?"
Revitalized, Sherlock dragged a finger across his throat as dramatically as possible. Then he mimed himself hanging from a noose, followed by plunging a knife into his chest several times and dying with his eyes open. He glanced over. John was watching him, his face gone serious again.
"But, I didn't die, Sherlock. Obviously."
Sherlock sat up. He shook his head. He kept shaking it until John placed a warm, dry palm on either side of his face, caught the movement between his hands.
"Everyone dies, Sherlock. Eventually." John smiled. "It's just…the way it is."
Sherlock shook his head, poked John's chest, less violently this time, shook his head again. John sighed and closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were very bright. Sherlock was watching him very closely, body tense, mouth drawn down.
"Well, it's a tall order, and if anyone other than you asked, I'd be rather inclined to decline, but…I'll see what I can do, okay? Just because you're sick, mind you. And I guess I do owe you."
Sherlock nodded, relief softening his features.
"I will try…never to die. Okay?" John took his hands away at last and held them very tightly in his lap.
Sherlock nodded again and opened his mouth, and at that moment was almost relieved he had lost the ability to speak, because anything he had to say would have just ruined everything.
3. Definitely Getting Drunk and Snogging in Public
On a clear and chilly evening in late November, John forced Sherlock to leave the flat after spending five interminable days tearing through medical textbooks, creating toxic concoctions on the kitchen table and in the kitchen sink and neglecting to either eat or bathe. The air outside hit his face like a slap, but the pub was infinitely worse, loud and noxious and teeming with unpleasant people who filled his head with unpleasant sights, sounds and smells. He pushed himself as far back into the booth as humanly possible and wished it would all just go away. John, pint raised halfway to his mouth, glanced at him.
"You all right?"
Sherlock could only shake his head, an infinitesimal movement, left and right.
John grinned and slid Sherlock's drink closer to him.
"Relax, Sherlock," John said into his left ear. "This is supposed to be fun."
"And yet it's not. At all. In fact, it's the absolute opposite of fun. At this exact moment, I can think of at least 214 other activities that I would rather be participating in that don't include sitting in this horrible, noisy, smelly—"
John slid Sherlock's glass closer. Sherlock wrapped one stiff hand around it and attempted to steady his breathing. John finished his own drink and ordered another round.
"Why did I agree to this again?" Sherlock asked, then repeated, louder, because John couldn't hear him. Or was ignoring him.
"Because it's good to be sociable, once in awhile," John said. "And Mike invited me, and I invited you. It's what friends do."
"So I've heard. And, where is Mike, anyway?"
John glanced at his watch. "Should be here soon. Said he was running a bit late—"
John was interrupted by what sounded like 10,000 pounds of glassware smashing onto the floor somewhere behind them, followed by a chorus of raucous shouts and cheers and clapping, followed by full sensory overload for Sherlock. He closed his eyes. Too much, too much, too much. He grabbed the pint in front of him and started to drink and kept drinking and didn't stop until he found himself being bodily escorted out the front door by two strangers sometime later. Interesting. And, confusing.
He looked to his right.
"John," he said. He looked to his left. "Mike! When did you get here?"
John rolled his eyes. "Never again," he said, shifting under Sherlock's ungainly weight.
"I don't understand," Sherlock said, tilting his head back. The sky was so black! And it went on forever! And there was a moon! A beautiful moon! How had he not noticed the moon? "Why are we leaving? We were having such a lovely time." He paused. "Weren't we?"
"We were. Until you stood on the table. And then fell off the table. And hit on the bartender. Who is male. And not gay. And then you decided you needed to playbartender. And then—"
"I what?" Sherlock stopped. He swayed. "I never."
"You did. And then some." John was angry. Sherlock could tell because John's fingers were digging into Sherlock's upper arm with a lot more force than necessary. "See, thisis what happens when you bottle yourself up all the time. This is what happens when you finally—"
"Easy there," Mike said, staggering a bit. John realized Mike wasn't in much better shape than Sherlock and closed his eyes briefly.
"Where's a fucking taxi?" he yelled.
"I don't want a taxi. I want to walk," Sherlock announced. "My head feels funny. And my legs. I need to clear it with air. My head, not my legs, obviously."
"Your head feels funny because you're bloody three sheets to the wind, Sherlock. Six drinks? Well, six that I saw. No food all week? Do I have to watch you every single second?"
Sherlock pulled his arms free from his captors. "John," he said, throwing his arms up. "Look at the sky! Look at the moon! It's beautiful! It's a lovers' moon!"
John glanced up. "Yes. Fascinating. Now how about you help me—"
He stopped talking then because he was shoved back against the bricks of the pub wall and Sherlock was kissing him like John had never been kissed before. Sherlock's lips were cold and tasted like beer and whiskey and whatever else he'd managed to consume when John wasn't looking and fuck if he wasn't a brilliant kisser. Of course he was. Of course. Sherlock's bare hands (where were his gloves? His very expensive gloves? Had he left them inside? John would have to check because he'd be furious in the morning if they were lost) were holding John's face, his long, cold fingers sliding against the base of John's skull and his mouth, lax from alcohol, was devouring John's mouth and his tongue, his tongue. It was all very hot and wet and soft and amazing and John couldn't breathe. Strands of his hair were snagging on the bricks behind his head and he reached out to push Sherlock off him so he could catch his breath but instead found his hands twisted in the front of Sherlock's coat and fuck if he wasn't pulling him even closer.
Sherlock finished abruptly and pulled away, just enough for John to gasp.
"You're drunk." John's voice sounded funny, like he'd swallowed sand.
"You are, too."
"No, I'm not. Not really. Not like you, obviously, because seriously that was the most fucking ridiculous—"
Someone coughed. John and Sherlock looked to their left. Mike. Mike Stamford was standing there and he was grinning and nodding, nodding and grinning. John wanted to punch him right in his nodding, grinning face.
"I don't feel well," said Sherlock.
"Right, then," John said, straightening up and sliding from between the wall and Sherlock's grip and attempting in vain to smooth his hair down. "Let's find a fucking bloody taxi right fucking now."
4. Followed Immediately by Expressing Inappropriate Feelings for Mike Stamford
Between the two of them, they managed to haul Sherlock in and out of the taxi and up the stairs at Baker Street without any bodily fluids being expelled from or on any of the three participants.
By the time they dropped him onto the couch with as little finesse as possible, John was distressingly sober, Mike was annoyingly jolly, and Sherlock was still drunk. He groaned and shoved his face into the cushions. John wondered briefly if he might suffocate, and then realized he almost didn't care.
"Thanks, mate," John said. Mike smiled and nodded and showed no inclination to leave.
"My pleasure," he said, and he appeared to mean it. He was, apparently, having a reallywonderful time. "Should do this again, sometime. Soon."
"Not a chance," said John.
"Right," said Mike.
"Well," said John.
"So," said Mike. He looked from Sherlock to John and back again. "So." It sounded like a question.
"So, nothing," said John. He sat down in his favourite chair and leaned back and closed his eyes and tried to make sense of the world. "Sherlock doesn't drink. Ever. He doesn't drink and he rarely eats and he has little to no self-control when he doesdrink, clearly, you saw that for yourself before we even left the damn pub, and he drank too much tonight and well. I was. Convenient. And he won't even remember it. And it meant absolutely nothing. And that's all. End of story."
"Hmm," said Mike. John opened his eyes. He really wished Mike would stop smiling. Sherlock moaned.
"You all right there, Sherlock?" Mike said. Sherlock opened one eye.
"You," he said.
"You," Sherlock said more clearly, jabbing a finger in Mike's general direction. "This is allyourdoing."
"Is it now?" Mike was giggling. He plopped himself down next to Sherlock, who struggled to move into an upright position.
John sighed and scrubbed his face. "Thanks again, Mike." He gestured towards the door. Mike ignored him because he was too busy listening to Sherlock talk rubbish.
"Yes. Yesitis. You have any idea what you did the day you brought John here into the lab?"
"Do tell." Mike grinned. His round face was very red.
"You," Sherlock said with a poke at Mike's shoulder, "you changed the course of history. You changed everything. You…changed John's life, and you definitely changed my life. You know that? You really really really reallyreally reallydid."
"In a really really super really good way." Sherlock smiled back. "And I don't think I've ever thanked you. Properly. So, thank you. Thank you, Mike. Thank you thank you thankyouthankyou—"
"Sherlock," said John. No one listened.
"And John should thank you, too. Has John thanked you?" He looked at John. "Have you ever thanked Mike?"
"Thank you, Mike," John ground out.
"And you know what else?" Sherlock said, looked back at Mike and tilting his head.
"You're a handsome bloke."
John sighed. Mike blinked. "I…am?"
Sherlock nodded vigorously. "You are." He leaned into Mike's neck. Mike shouted. John jumped up.
"He licked me! The daft bastard licked my ear!"
John propped Sherlock up and sat on his other side. Sherlock swayed between them. "Yes. He does that. On occasion."
"And you," Sherlock continued, waving vaguely in John's direction.
"Oh god," said John.
"You're not reallystupid."
"It was wrong of me to say that. I was just…upset. Very upset. About that stupid thing you did." He paused. "You're notstupid. Just short." He patted John's head. "And cute."
Mike giggled. John felt very homicidal and very sober.
"In summation," said Sherlock, "we like Mike, John and I. We don't lovehim though, because we love each other."
"Right?" prompted Sherlock with an elbow to John's side. John looked at him a long moment. Sherlock elbowed him again.
"Right." John nodded. "Yes. We do."
"Because he brought us together. And, now we're together. And, we wouldn't be together, if not for Mike. So, we like him. A lot."
Mike grinned. John sighed. Sherlock hiccupped and leaned heavily against John. He slipped his hand into John's and breathed wetly and beerily into his neck.
"We like Mike. We just really, really do."
5. And, Finally, Trimming a Christmas Tree
On a frigid and blowy afternoon on December 24, Sherlock banged into the flat and stopped short, a swirl of cold billowing in behind him. He smelled like snow.
"What," he said, "is that?"
John straightened up from his spot on the floor, spread his arms wide.
"Isn't it obvious?"
It wasobvious, but Sherlock was still suspicious. In years previous John and Mrs. Hudson had decorated the flat for the holidays weeks in advance, but this year Mrs. Hudson was gone to her sister's, which left John in sole charge of all things merry and bright. He had debated about decorating, and Sherlock had said nothing either way, of course, didn't even seem to notice which month it was, but in the end, John decided to just do it. The tree was slightly too large and slightly too crooked, but it smelled wonderful and John looked wonderful and Sherlock had just closed his latest case, but that didn't seem to matter right at that moment.
There was a cardboard box, slightly battered, sitting on the kitchen table, crammed in amongst the test tubes and microscope. Sherlock glanced at it, then at John, who did a little one-shoulder shrug.
"Dunno. Thought you might want…to help, this year."
Sherlock considered. He very easily could have declined with any number of excuses, and John very easily would have let him, but instead he shook the snow off his coat and nodded.
John was wearing his Christmas jumper and he put on Christmas music and poured them both Christmas drinks and together they decorated their Christmas tree. By the time they were done it was quite dark in the flat.
"All right. Now, watch this."
John plugged in the lights. Sherlock's heart felt very bright and light and he swallowed several times before he could speak.
They ate some dinner and then sat in the silence and soft glow of the lights with their drinks and didn't speak for a while.
"Do you ever wonder what life would be like if we hadn't met?"
John smiled. "Sometimes. Usually after I've almost been shot, or almost been drowned, or almost been dismembered or—"
"I don't mean like that."
"I know. And yes, sometimes I do wonder. Do you?"
"It makes me feel…upset, when I think about it, so I try not to."
"Well, you don't have to, you know. There's no point, really. We didmeet, and here we are."
Sherlock sipped his drink and picked at the fabric of his trousers.
"It's just all so random, life! How does anyone bear it? Meeting certain people at certain times and not knowing how those people are going to affect them, good or bad and what if we're not meeting the right people? How would we know? It's just so—"
Sherlock swallowed and shrugged. "Random. Chance."
"Don't know if I believe in chance. I prefer fate, I think. Serendipity."
"That's not very scientific."
"No. It's not."
"It all comes back to Mike. He's just. He's responsible. He—"
"Don't start. Please. Just. Do not. Start."
Sherlock stopped talking. The lights twinkled. Outside, snow fell on strangers going about their lives. John looked at him.
"The fact is we didmeet, yes? Can you just be…happy about that?"
Sherlock nodded. He could. He definitely could do that. He felt very happy, just then.
John cleared his throat. "You could have just…told me, you know."
There was a long silence. Finally Sherlock turned his head slightly in John's direction.
"Me. You could have told me first. You know. Before you told Mike Bloody Stamford."
Another long silence, this one slightly more uncomfortable than the last. This time Sherlock cleared histhroat.
"And, really, you had to be half out of your mind? To…express your feelings?"
Sherlock winced. "Please. John. Feelings?" His lip curled. John smiled.
"To Mike," said John, raising his glass.
In a bit, Sherlock slid from his chair and folded himself in front of John's, leaning against his warm, solid legs. After a moment, John put his hand on Sherlock's head, and then he started to stroke his hair.
"I like that," Sherlock said.
"I thought you might."
Christmas and a tree and snow and wine and John's hand on his head and his head in John's lap and more snow and presents and cookies and cake and wrappings and next week Mrs. Hudson and at that moment, right at that moment everything. Everything.
Then John moved his hand. He covered his mouth. He yawned. The moment was over. Sherlock smiled.
He reached up, grasped John's fingers, squeezed them tight.
Outside, snow kept falling.